Retreating energy prices combined with ample supplies weakened the sentiment for styrene and resulted in global losses from last week, as per ChemOrbis. Spot styrene lost ground in major markets including Europe, Asia and the US in tandem with falling benzene markets amid weaker crude oil, before the energy complex rebounded on Friday. However, spot upstream costs continue to stand significantly above the levels that were valid in early February.
Nymex crude future contracts for April delivery have fluctuated since the beginning of March owing to volatile developments in major global economies including USA and China. Crude oil prices had posted a loss of nearly US$4/barrel since early this month before the contracts settled up by around US$2/barrel on Friday. The level still stands US$1.24/barrel below the figure of early March. In Europe, spot benzene offers shed US$15/ton on CIF NWE basis week over week bringing the total drop amount to US$55/ton since March 1. While moving backward, the spot benzene market pulled the styrene market down as well. Spot styrene costs retreated by US$35/ton on FOB NWE basis over the past week. The most recent levels also indicated a US$25/ton fall from early this month. Apart from the weaker upstream markets the expectation of US cargoes entering the region by H2- March and April were deemed as another factor pressurizing the market.
In Asia, news that the Chinese Government would continue to control prices in the real estate market weakened the sentiment since the middle of last week. The development would hinder demand for polystyrene (PS), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and expandable polystyrene (EPS), which are main downstream markets of styrene monomer says ChemOrbis. Spot benzene prices moved down by US$15/ton on FOB South Korea basis last week, while they softened by US$10/ton with respect to March 1. Consequently, spot styrene values fell by US$30/ton from the prior week and by US$15/ton from early this month. In the US, around US$10/ton softer spot benzene values pulled spot styrene offers down by a modest US$5/ton on FOB USG basis week over week. The softer trend was mainly attributed to needs-only based demand as well as softer benzene values which edged down by the same amount as styrene. On the supply side, Total reportedly resumed normal operations at its styrene monomer plant with a capacity of more than 1 million tpa in Louisiana. On the other hand, spot styrene prices still stand at or above the levels that had been recorded in early February. With respect to the figures early last month, spot benzene and styrene costs are stable to US$40/ton higher in Asia. In Europe, spot benzene prices are up US$85/ton while styrene values are up US$60/ton compared to the period. In the US, the most recent spot styrene values represent a US$45/ton increase compared to early last month.